In my previous post, we saw what it’s like to fly from Manila to Ōsaka with Jetstar Asia (IATA code: 3K). Now let’s have a look at the experience going in the opposite direction, departing from Ōsaka and heading back to Manila.
Note: Schedule/route information, equipment type, and other details are accurate only for the specific flight reviewed here. This information may not necessarily apply to previous or future flights, even by the same airline under the same route and flight number.
This report covers the return leg (KIX-MNL) of a MNL-KIX-MNL round trip journey. You can read my review of the outbound leg (MNL-KIX) by clicking here.
Airline and flight number : Jetstar Asia (3K) 764
Route : Ōsaka-Kansai (KIX) to Manila (MNL)
Date : Friday, 05 May 2017
Scheduled departure time : 1250, rescheduled to 1240
Actual departure time : 1308 (source)
Scheduled arrival time : 1605
Actual arrival time : 1549 (source)
EQUIPMENT AND CABIN
Aircraft : A320-200
Manufacturer : Airbus
Registration number : 9V-JSE
Aircraft age (as of flight date) : 12 years
Passenger capacity : 180, all-economy layout
Cabin configuration (seat maps) : SeatGuru
Travel class flown : Economy
Ōsaka’s Kansai International Airport (IATA code: KIX) has two terminals, but the LCC-oriented Terminal 2 is currently only used by Peach (all flights) and Spring Airlines (international flights). All other carriers, including other LCCs like Jetstar, fly out of Terminal 1.
The check-in process was smooth and efficient. No special lanes, which on the one hand was not surprising since everyone’s in economy class on this trip, but on the other hand was a bit puzzling since it would seem that checking in online yields no added benefit (no dedicated counter).
I’ve used KIX several times and the simple, airy architecture of the departures lounge offers a nice atmosphere for the long, boring wait for boarding time. The views of the tarmac and runway, set against the sea and the city and green mountains beyond, were certainly far, far, FAR better than at MNL (I regret not taking pictures of the landscape to prove the point).
It’s amazing how much infrastructure – and how many support vehicles – are required to service even a relatively small aircraft like ours.
Flight 3K764 was assigned to Gate 29. Only one queue, same as with the first leg when it left Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (IATA code: MNL), though in this case they’ve tried to speed things up by splitting the initial passport-and-boarding-pass inspection into three lines (hence the splaying out of the belt barriers) which would then merge into one for the final scan of the boarding pass.
Same as in MNL, passengers were called up in turns starting from those seated in rows further aft and moving towards the front. Priority was given to those in the first two rows and those with special needs. I was concerned that boarding would quickly dissolve into the usual scrum, but I needn’t have worried. Just like their MNL colleagues, the KIX gate staff enforced the row-by-row turns strictly, with passengers seated in rows not yet summoned for boarding politely asked to step aside first when their boarding passes were inspected. (I wrote in my review of the first leg that I’d be happy if fines/penalties were imposed on any clowns forcing themselves into the queue before their rightful turn, excepting those with special needs of course, and that opinion of mine still stands.)
Things did slow down quite considerably past the gate, with the queue of passengers backing up into the aerobridge. I’ve no idea what caused it – someone blocking the aisle on the plane, perhaps? – but it was a momentary annoyance that soon cleared up.
I don’t often write or show images of flight arrivals, but here are a few shots (taken on the long walk from the gate to immigration through to baggage claim) of MNL’s arrivals area after 3K764 landed. Having come this way several times both before and after the recent renovations, I can certainly say there’s been a massive improvement … but those exposed bolts for the new earthquake retrofits are an utter eyesore, and the baggage conveyors really should have been thrown out and replaced.
Now then, let’s have a look at our bird. I’ve read in one source that the aircraft used on both legs was 9V-JSE. I didn’t get a clear look at the plane when we left MNL, but I was able to observe it taxiing towards the gate on the tarmac at KIX and I could just about make out “9V-JSE” emblazoned near the tail.
And here she is, comfortably berthed at Gate 29 and undergoing pre-flight maintenance in preparation for our journey to MNL.
Flightradar24 quotes an age of 12 years for this aircraft … not exactly ancient, but certainly not new. I’ve made observations in my previous report regarding obvious signs of wear and tear, specifically amongst the interior fittings, and although I have every confidence that technical maintenance was on par with accepted standards, the effort – or lack thereof – that 3K expended on basic interior maintenance left a lot to be desired.
Jetstar Asia’s basic “Starter Economy” fare class will get you on board with 7 kg of carry-on baggage allowance, limited to one main item and one smaller item that must have a combined weight falling under that limit. Depending on the airport and the staff, enforcement might be more or less stringent at times, but I can tell you that they were quite strict at KIX (someone in the queue ahead of me was even told to reorganise their load just to keep to the two-item rule). Best not to take any chances: make sure that you’ve got no more than two bags when about to board your plane, which might require some creative repacking if you’ve just done a bit of last-minute shopping.
As for checked baggage, allowances ranging from 15 to 40 kg can be purchased at the time of initial booking, or added subsequently but at a higher cost. Those who’ve elected to pay for “Starter Plus” or “Starter Max” fare bundles are entitled to 20 kg and 30 kg respectively, along with other benefits (described separately in the various sections below). When I booked my flight, I paid for a “Starter Plus” bundle which got me 20 kg each way, far more than enough for my 5-day holiday. In fact, I tipped the scales at less than 11 kg on this return leg, including items I’d collected/purchased during the trip, and bear in mind that I tend to pack too much when travelling overseas (light packers can make do with much less).
Jetstar Asia’s 18 A320s all feature an economy-only configuration, with no cabin partitions in the main seating area. Exit-row seats with extra space can be booked for a fee; otherwise, you can expect the same 29 inches of seat pitch pretty much across the board.
I’ve got no serious complaints about the legroom, but do bear in mind that I’m a fairly short chap. Taller folk might find the arrangements a bit of a squeeze, and they’ll want to consider making the additional investment to secure an exit-row seat.
The “Starter Plus” bundle I added at the time of booking gave me a choice of seat from amongst the standard rows – this of course excludes the exit rows and the prime forward rows. Same as for the outbound leg, I reserved a vacant window seat as close to the front as I could manage – 7th row for MNL-KIX, and now 8th on the KIX-MNL return leg. Not a bad choice, nor a bad view, even though I’m one row closer to the wing than on the previous flight…
…and the obstructing engine view is easily obliterated by edging one’s camera a wee bit to the right. Here’s a nice, clean shot of the KIX terminal building taken from my seat.
I’ve already mentioned that this was a relatively old plane, and not a very well maintained one at that. Clean enough, I suppose, but the soiling and smudging and wear and tear I observed on the last leg were all still here. Well, perhaps even back with a vengeance: the seat covers in front of me had a bit of actual damage, and when I pulled out the safety briefing card from the seat pocket, I was mortified to see significant residues of dried chewing gum smeared across the bottom. This, of course, makes one wonder how long it’s been since the seats – and the seat pocket literature – were last stripped off for cleaning or replacement.
As I stated in my previous post, I do appreciate that turnaround times can be rather tight for LCC flights, but I would expect better than this when it comes to cleanliness.
Non-existent (as per LCC standards), apart from the small in-house magazine. It’s just a four-hour flight, anyway; nap time and mealtime should close up a large chunk of that window.
CATERING AND SERVICE
If you’re travelling between MNL and KIX on Jetstar Asia’s “Starter Economy” fare class, food must be either purchased on board or added for a fee at the point of booking. On the other hand, passengers who’ve purchased a “Plus” or “Max” fare class upgrade are served a complimentary meal and a bottle of water, along with their choice of hot beverage (coffee or tea).
My “Plus” bundle allowed me to make a free meal selection at the time of booking. When the in-flight meal service began, the cabin crew served those of us with pre-booked meals first, and only after that did another cart come rolling down the aisle to offer food and drinks to those buying on board.
For the outbound MNL-KIX flight, I’d chosen the airline’s signature “Singapore chicken rice”. On the return KIX-MNL leg, my selection was the menu’s lone vegetarian full-meal option: pasta rigatoni in tomato sauce topped with cheese and diced vegetables.
To be clear, I’m no vegetarian, but I do avoid meat on Fridays in accordance with Catholic tradition. (Yes my friends, in the strictest sense that includes any Friday outside of Lent too, unless it happens to be a solemnity.) I do like how convenient it is to make one’s meal selections for each leg separately whilst booking online with Jetstar, or indeed with other LCCs who normally charge extra for meals. My experience with some full-service airlines is that one can only specify (or not specify) any special meal preferences and this would be applied to both halves of a round trip, so in those cases, I’d have to expect veg-only meals all throughout even if just one leg falls on a Friday.
Now then, here’s the meal as served…
…and with the lid off. I see that Jetstar Asia’s culinary presentation skills haven’t improved since the last flight.
The cutlery pack included small sachets of salt and pepper. I didn’t need the salt, but I was grateful for the pepper and emptied the whole pack onto my pasta.
Same as the meal I enjoyed on the outbound leg, this dish was better than expected, shoddy presentation notwithstanding. Far from being a soggy, mushy mess, the pasta was cooked al dente – I was rather surprised that it had managed to survive both the initial prep work and the subsequent on-board microwave nuking – and I liked the flavour of the sauce and toppings used.
As part of the meal package, I was offered a choice between hot coffee and tea. I hadn’t had my usual afternoon caffeine dose yet, so the stronger coffee was the obvious choice.
As for the cabin service, I’ll stick to the “polite but not obsequious” rating I gave in my review of the last leg. Nothing extraordinary, either in a positive or negative sense, and on this not-so-long flight on an LCC that’s all I’d have expected from the crew.
This return leg wasn’t all that different from the outbound, so the closing comments of my previous post are worth repeating:
I try to manage my expectations appropriately when flying with an LCC, and I keep these adjusted standards in mind whilst rating their performance. With this taken into consideration, I’m happy to report that Jetstar Asia’s performance on this particular flight was more than satisfactory. Cramped seats, but adequate; small meal portions, but adequate (and quite tasty to boot); basic cabin service, but adequate. Best of all, we arrived slightly ahead of schedule, despite a small delay in our departure. I’m not one to demand more than what I’ve fairly paid for, and I certainly believe I got what I paid for.
But for goodness’ sake, lads, give this aeroplane a good scrubbing – especially on the inside. Or better yet, scrap the blasted thing and put newer birds on the MNL-KIX-MNL run.
Now all things considered, will I fly with them again on this route? Absolutely. (Though I’ll be sure to take a good, long look at the inside of the seat pocket before putting any of my personal belongings in there.)